Farewell “Doc”

On Thursday the Devils lost perhaps one of their most noble and passionate members of their organization, a man who changed my perspective of the sport, and who has been awarded numerous times getting credited for his exceptional ability at being the best across not just hockey but all sports.

(And to be frank, I’m really bummed about it!)

The voice of the New Jersey Devils, Mike “Doc” Emrick, will be stepping down from his position as the Devils play-by-play announcer. He will continue to work with NBC and Versus on a reduced schedule – in effect partially retiring.

He will turn 65 during the 2011-12 season.

“Doc” wrote a letter to fans in which he says “I wanted Devils fans to know of this news quickly after I reached the decision since their kindness to my wife Joyce and me on countless occasions brought us so much joy. Candidly, it has also left me with a sense of regret that I will not be continuing to call the team’s games.”

I’ve actually met Doc on a couple of occasions, most recently on January 30, 2009 during “Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick Night” which celebrated his 40 years of broadcasting. I actually got his autograph that night, and he seemed a little surprised by it. To me, his role with the Devils has been just as important as any players, simply because he’s the interpreter of the games to those of us who watch the majority of them on television.

I feel bad saying this, but I would always be disappointed when Doc would be “on assignment” televising a national game for NBC or Versus and Steve Cangelosi would be doing the play by play. Doc had a way of broadcasting that is reminiscent of a radio play by play announcer, but he did it on television and it just worked beautifully.

This may seem silly to some, but as a fan of the Devils through three Stanley Cups, and having one broadcaster being their for easily 95% of the time, even on national broadcasts since he did that too with Fox, NBC and Versus, you expect to hear that professionalism and ability each and every game night.

He not only broadcasted, he did with passion and real enthusiasm. He got himself involved in the game and the excitement, and would not hold back with excitement in his play by play.

Some of my favorite “Doc” one-liners:

“I have an excellent grasp of the obvious.” -many times
“If you’re keeping score at home… why?” -after a very confusing scoring change during a high scoring game.
“If you’re just joining us, where have you been?” -in the middle of the third period with the Devils ahead by a lot.

Doc, on behalf of Devils fans everywhere, we will miss you; your broadcasts, your excitement and your astounding ability to call the games. Telecasts will not be the same without you behind the microphone. Good luck in your partial retirement and I hope you stop by the Rock from time to time to visit.

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